Uncanny X-Men 600; what a number for Brian Michael Bendis to end his 3-year X-Men run on. It’s been delayed for months because of Secret Wars, even though the writing and art finished in … June I believe? It concludes both All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men volume 3 with The Trial of Hank McCoy while also tying up a number of loose ends. The question is, was it worth the months of delays? That depends on who you ask.
People who didn’t like Bendis’s X-Men run probably won’t enjoy this issue. For those who did though, this is alright. The main issue is 36 pages of story featuring a bunch of artists from throughout Bendis’s run. McCoy’s trial itself is better described as a confrontation between modern Beast and long-time X-Men characters, including storm, Kitty Pryde, Emma Frost, Colossus, Nightcrawler and the occasional comment from teenaged Cyclops and Beast. The dialogue is well-written, and it highlights Beast’s hypocrisy and excessive experiments of the last few years. He acts very defensive even though the other X-Men are fairly gentle; they could have been much harsher. On the one hand, not much actually happens in this scene and the ending isn’t very conclusive.
Intercut with the trial are a number of scenes touching up on loose ends, and these generally work better than the main story. Teenaged Iceman confronts his adult self about his sexuality, and the scene is just the right amount of awkward drama with some amusing lines. Colossus and Magic finally meet again after their rough parting in Avengers vs. X-Men’s aftermath, and it’s a great moment that feels right. The All-New X-Men have another scene to themselves, which sets everything up for Jean joining the Extraordinary X-Men while sending the other O5 their separate ways. And of course the issue caps off with Cyclops announcing his Revolution, followed by one last scene featuring Eva Bell confronting Adult Beast. The Revolution scene still only hints at what Cyclops plans to do and ends abruptly, which makes it feel kind of pointless. Eve Bell’s scene is too short for her sake, but it ends Beast’s story on an emotional note. He’s clearly shaken.
There are so many artists in this comic it’s ridiculous, and they all do some of their best work. Sara Pichelli, Mahmud Asrar, Stuart Immonen, Kris Anka, Chris Bachalo, David Marquez and Frazer Irving all provide pages. Their different art styles work for each of their scenes. Asrar handles the Iceman scene beautifully, with great facial expressions. When you put the Icemen side by side, they really do look like a younger and older version of each other. Personally Immonen’s art is my favourite in this comic; he handles the All-New X-Men scene. Bachalo and Irving handle their own colouring, while Marte Gracia and Jason Keith help with everyone else’s. Save for Bachalo’s scene, which is an overall brown tint, the comic is bright and colourful. Bachalo’s tinted look works for Cyclop’s Revolutionary scene. I’m not a fan of his style myself, but it’s good.
In addition to the main story, this comic has two notable extras. First, there’s a page long letter from Bendis, saying goodbye to his X-Men run and the fans. It’s a nice letter that also includes a sketch by Immonen featuring the teenaged O5 and X-23. After that, there’s an 18 page Iceman story written by Mary Joe Duffy and drawn in black and white by George Perez. How much you’ll like this story depends on how much you like Iceman, but it’s written like a silver age comic and it’s kind of fun.
There are a lot of people who didn’t enjoy Bendis’s X-Men run, and if you’re one of those people, you probably won’t enjoy this either. For those who did enjoy his run, like me, there’s a lot to like in Uncanny X-Men 600 but at the same time, it’s disappointing. Anniversary issues don’t always need to be big, sprawling action scenes. Sometimes, they’re better off focusing on the characters that make the series so special, and that’s what Bendis did here. It’s just too bad we still don’t know what Cyclops’s Revolution actually is. Pick this up if you’ve enjoyed Bendis’s run; it’s worth the price for how much content you get, but don’t expect a masterpiece.